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Feasting on parathas and poetry

Sethji supervising a sumptuous lunch served to his customers.

IF EATING out is a regular affair, it can get pretty tough on one's pocket, what with heavy service tax levied at every "decent" restaurant. What remains then is the option of visiting the cheaper outlets (if one doesn't mind the greasy spoons) in the neighbourhood. But those residing in Indira Nagar have a better option. Sethji — a quaint little paratha point — is a welcome change from the various dhabas and tiffinwallahs.

Run by Tilak Raj Seth and his wife, Nirmala Seth, it is a place where food is served in a cozy homely ambience. The young-at-heart septua-genarian, Mr. Seth, who came to Bangalore in1992 to help his friend start a restaurant, says: "I came here for three weeks and loved it, and decided to stay back." He eventually quit his job as a publicity designer in Bollywood, after having worked with legends such as Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, B.R. Chopra, and Ramanand Sagar, to start a small eatery of his own in Bangalore.

Initially, the Seths operated from their home and offered packed food for take aways. Sethji, in its current avtaar, was born in October 1999 and has served delicious home made food to hundreds of families, bachelors, and students. "I can cook channa in eight different styles," says Mr. Seth, whose malai kulfi is in demand from some of Bangalore's best five star hotels.

At Sethji, one can opt for sitting in the dining hall or in the portico outside. The dining hall is virtually an art gallery with Mr. Seth's own paintings adorning the walls. The multi-talented man not only paints but also writes ghazals and poetry of other genres. He may even join you as you dine, and recite some of his couplets.

One can stop by at Sethji either for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Though the place specialises in parathas, one can choose puri-bhaji, breadrolls, tikkis, sandwiches, toasts, etc. for breakfast. The breakfast menu is priced at Rs. 10, and is available form 8.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.. Many flock here for the puri-bhaji, which is famous for its thick gravy of onion and tomato, in which the potatoes and peas are cooked. "People just love the taste of our puris. The ajwain we use, adds an altogether different taste," explains Ms. Seth.

For lunch and dinner, one can choose to have a North-Indian meal for Rs. 30 or opt for a paratha with sabzi. A paratha is priced at Rs. 25 and you can choose to have it stuffed with potato, cauliflower, onion, carrots, raddish, methi, paneer, or mixed vegetables.

The genial couple swear that "high hygiene level" while cooking and serving the food is high on their agenda. The couple believes that "people find more satisfaction in food which is served from the heart rather than the hand. The good wishes we get after the meal is our income."

At Sethji, the food is "hundred per cent vege-tarian". He says: "Only a strict vegetarian can serve you vegetarian food. I will not serve what I don't eat."

The Seth couple believe in creating health cons-ciousness, and so, if you look forward to colas, teas, or coffees, you will be disappointed at Sethji. But you can treat yourself to a slurpy buttermilk or lemon tea here. They also look down upon desserts such as pastries and ice-creams and serve you only home made kulfi, which is made from milk and sugar, and contains no added flavours or preservatives.

If you happen to stop by at Sethji between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. you can taste delicious chaats too, all priced at Rs. 10. Tokri chaat is a must have. The shape, like a basket, is as interesting as its taste. It is available in two sizes. Lunch time is from 12 noon to 3 p.m., and dinner is served between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m..

Sethji can be contacted on 5256189 or 5270037.


Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

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